The Lighthouse

 (11,383)
7.41 h 49 min2019X-RayR
Two lighthouse keepers (Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe) fight each other for survival and sanity on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s. From Robert Eggers, the visionary filmmaker behind horror masterpiece 'The Witch'.
Directors
Robert Eggers
Starring
Willem DafoeRobert PattinsonValeriia Karaman
Genres
SuspenseFantasyDramaHorror
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
English
Rentals include 30 days to start watching this video and 48 hours to finish once started.

Included with SHOWTIME on Amazon for $10.99/month after trial

Add to Watchlist
Add to
Watchlist
By ordering or viewing, you agree to our Terms. Sold by Amazon.com Services LLC.
Write review

More details

Producers
Robert EggersChris ColumbusEleanor ColumbusIsaac EricsonRodrigo GutierrezSam HansonYouree HenleyCaroline LevySophie MasArnon Milchan
Studio
A24
Rating
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Frightening scenesalcohol usefoul languagesmokingnuditysexual contentviolence
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

11383 global ratings

  1. 62% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 14% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 6% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 9% of reviews have 1 stars
Sorted by:

Top reviews from the United States

ArnoldReviewed in the United States on September 13, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Deep underlying mythological elements
Verified purchase
!!!SPOILER ALERT!!!

I normally don't write reviews, but the underlying message in this film was too good for me to not to.

First of all, I have read several people's opinions on this movie. It is not simply about two crazy men, nor homoeroticism, and definitely not about gender roles. It's about something much deeper and is unknown to much of the modern mainstream secular world.

I won't go into too much detail here, but I will sum up my analysis. This film has a lot of references to Greek mythology, and the main theme of the entire film is pinned by one particular troupe of Greek characters: Prometheus, Hermes/Mercury, and Zeus/Jupiter.

For these unfamiliar with the 5th century BC Greek tragedy of Prometheus by Aeschylus, I will summarize. Prometheus was a Greek Titan who stole the invention of fire from Mount Olympus where the other gods reside, descended to Earth to give mankind fire, which is a metaphor for enlightenment itself. Zeus did not like that so he had Prometheus chained to a rock and a raptor would come upon Prometheus once a day to feast upon his liver. Zeus sent Hermes/Mercury to negotiate with the bound Prometheus to rescind his act of bringing enlightenment to mankind, but Prometheus refuses each time, sticking true to his original intention of enlightenting mankind.

This overall theme is found throughout the entire film. The scene where Winslow buries Tom and Tom goes on his ramble about the Promethean light whilst the dirt is being thrown on him. Tom's obsession with the light and refusal to allow Winslow to see it. This is where Tom is represented as a cross between Zeus-Prometheus, in which the old man (Zeus) denies enlightenment to Winslow (man), and Tom as Prometheus in where he sacrifices himself as a martyr when Winslow buries him, not to forget the memorable scene where Tom's eyes beam the light into Winslow's eyes, endowing him with wisdom. Winslow is depicted as Hermes-Prometheus, as Winslow is the younger individual (as Prometheus is as opposed to Zeus), comes to the island with a sober mind as opposed to Tom's old, drunken mind - which is likened to Zeus' elderly mind as the chief of Mt. Olympus, not to mention Zeus' broody nature. Winslow tries to negotiate with Tom, as rational Hermes tried to negotiate with stubborn Prometheus (Tom). This ruminating mind is clearly characteristic of Tom, endlessly prattling on and on about his history (or lack thereof), and angry ocean deity-powers (the Dread Emperor rant). When Winslow kills Tom and steals the keys to the lighthouse to ascend to the top to look into the light - this is where Winslow truly becomes Prometheus. He is blinded by the light, as the knowledge his eyes lies upon is too great for him to bear, he falls back, stumbles all the way down the spiral stairs (a labyrinth depiction), then ends up by the rocks by the water, wounded, with the seagulls feasting on his insides. He is Prometheus bound on the stone, with the Harpies feasting on his innards.

Now, there is another element here - that is even deeper and more insane. It is not simply Promethean, but more Mercurian in nature. For these unfamiliar with astrology, the zodiac sign of Gemini is ruled by Mercury. Gemini is the twins - Castor and Pollux. Throughout the entire film, there are only two main characters - Tom and Winslow. There are telltale moments in the film where if the Gemini element is applied to this thought, it makes sense. For instance, the parts when:

1. Winslow lied about his name - it really being Tom, the same name as old Tom. When Winslow and old Tom are drunk in one scene, Tom admits that his name isn't really Ephraim. Old Tom is confounded and says, "no, I'm Tom."
2. Old Tom says to Winslow, "maybe I'm a figment of your imagination and you're really still in Canady." It is a trait of Gemini to have a mental self, both separate and of the true self that the individual speaks to mentally (literally), as a twin. This twin is often identical, but with a slight personality difference, serving as a mental balance agent.
3. Old Tom suspects that Winslow killed the "real" Ephraim. This one is easy. These two characters really are the one same person, and Ephraim was their original name - a character that was originally pure and innocent, which is why near the end, Ephraim was depicted as pale and bright-colored. Young Tom strangles Ephraim, killing his own innocent self, corrupting his own inner light in pursuit of an external light - a pursuit that gradually makes him go insane, resulting in the insane, drunken Old Tom who is full of endless prattle about himself being many things rolled up in one. Also think about in the beginning when Young Tom declines drink when Old Tom tries to force it on him, he says "drink makes men stupid."
4. The fourth hint is probably the simplest. It is the amount of how much Old Tom talks. He goes on and on about seemingly mundane, irrelevant things - which are not actually trivial but have deeper meaning that require closer analysis and a foundation in understanding of the psychology discussed in Greek mythology. Gemini has a trait where he (or they) talk endless words, and this is clearly characteristic of Old Tom. Young Tom bursts into a rage and calls Old Tom an old, stinking drunk and a liar - essentially calling himself a liar. He resents himself for what he has gradually become. Timid Young Tom has become full-blown reclusive, rambling Old Tom. "Ye have a way with words, Tommy."
5. They both look exactly like a younger and older version of themselves. The luminary Ephraim (near the end) even looks like a clean-cut Young Tom, before he succumbed to insanity. That's why the scene was so brief in showing Ephraim's face. It was deliberately designed to be brief - to fool the viewer.

There you have it. Ephraim Winslow is Young Tom is Old Tom.

The only part that the director seemed to leave open to interpretation is whether or not the entire film was intended to be within the psyche of Young Tom or Old Tom. In my opinion, it's both. Young Tom comes to the island, encounters his old self - or is it that Old Tom is greeted by his young self and the ending purely shows us how his younger self died decades ago, in Canady?
3 people found this helpful
Christina ReynoldsReviewed in the United States on March 20, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Shrouded by a smog of deception and doubt
Verified purchase
My rating is more of a 4.5
Thank you for reading!

𝑯𝒐𝒘 𝒍𝒐𝒏𝒈 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒘𝒆 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒐𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒔 𝒓𝒐𝒄𝒌? 𝑭𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝒘𝒆𝒆𝒌𝒔? 𝑻𝒘𝒐 𝑫𝒂𝒚𝒔? 𝑾𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒘𝒆? 𝑯𝒆𝒍𝒑 𝒎𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒓𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒄𝒕!

The Lighthouse is a 2019 psychological horror-thriller film directed and produced by Robert Eggers, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Max Eggers. It stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as two lighthouse keepers who begin to descend into madness when a storm strands them on the remote island where they are stationed.

Set in the year 1890, ‘The Lighthouse’ is shot on 35 mm black and white Double – x522 film with a nearly square aspect ratio of 1.19:1. The resemblance to early photography is further enhanced by a custom cyan filter designed as to mimic the look and feel of orthochromatic films from the late 19th century. More than a periodically immersive technique, this emulation put every flaw - every wrinkle and would be pore on the face - under a microscope and intensifies every expression indicative of professed and forcibly withdrawn vulnerability. Not only that, but a potentially unintended side-effect of this is the inability to credibly discern how much time is passing as Winslow and Wake become uncomfortably disturbed by the influence of one another's increasingly begrudged company. The audience is subtly challenged by ‘The Lighthouse’ to make a choice in whether or not their perception of the environment is any better than that if it characters

A film so heavily dependent on the performances of fewer cast members lends itself to a variety of disadvantages; the possibility of complexity and balance becomes naturally stunted by design. The combination of exhaustive dedication (because this was shot in a location where extreme weather persists and the crew was mercilessly subjected to) and differences and methodology excavates the already palpable tension witnessed between that of Dafoe and Pattinson. Defoe's background in theater in full effect - the controlled delivery of his lines is equally paired with physical qualities (like scenes in which he never blinks or breaks his stare) asserts himself as a reverent subject of unquestionable authority. In Pattinson we see his preference for the spontaneous - like those in which she seems to involuntarily roll his eyes - and this leaves his character as one that seems defeated and negaholic at the core.

‘The Lighthouse’ acclaims itself as being a thematic exploration of isolation; if not for the execution of its exposition I could accept this description without challenge. Viewers are made privy to minimal information regarding experiences of the past that plague both Wake in Winslow, but more could be done to help audience members make inferences as they relate to the yearning they might have for opportunities to make meaningful connections with people outside of their immediate context. When speaking empathetically I can say with conviction that if I put myself in their position it is fairly simple to understand the insidious and organic way in which their psyches are being affected, but the impact of confinement seems largely undeveloped in retrospect.

That said, the way in which the mind works when making sense of the obscure is all-the-more fascinating. While watching I had an epiphany of sorts that all but killed and justified the elements of fantasy that keep ‘The Lighthouse’ deliberately afloat.
The summarize: I couldn't help but notice the interactions involving copious amounts of alcohol consumption being juxtaposed with what is an accessibility of sorts to water that is safe for ingestion. It makes sense from a completely physiological and simply nutritional standpoint that Wake and Winslow would be in a position where alcoholic induced stupors are practically and metaphorically written into their respective job descriptions. From here it is then logical to take further notice of ways in which they both differ and their willingness and/or ability to adapt to their current surroundings as need be; where Wake seems to have surrendered himself to the harshness of his surroundings Winslow seems perpetually destined to remain threatened by its brutality and hence unacclimated to it. The possibilities are certainly endless, but this train of thought leads me to suggest that ‘The Lighthouse’ is ultimately tied in some ways (to me, anyway) to the exploration and creation of identities that are in line with our own unique assets and values.

A tricky one to grasp - ‘The Lighthouse - lays in wake and shrouds itself with a smoldering shadow of doubt and deception. Cast underneath the spotlight of our separate projections and experiences: a piece that nearly chokes on an abundance of self-importance gracefully avoids being a monotonously pretentious affair.
It might not be your glass of wine -
but it's still worth a shot (or two).
I would recommend
One person found this helpful
Martha DyeReviewed in the United States on April 17, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Best movie of 2019
Verified purchase
Yesterday afternoon, I finally saw Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse, and let me tell you, that has got to be one of the most unique movie viewing experience I have had in a while. The movie feels like Eggers saw a couple of those creepy black and white photographs you can find in an Outer Lakes beach house and decided to make an entire movie out of it. While the premise of two men going insane on an island is pretty simple, Eggers spares no detail and puts an offensive amount of effort into fully fleshing out his specific twist on the concept, ranging from the movie’s cinematography, plot, and characters.

I specifically compared this movie to a creepy black and white beach house photograph, because it damn well looks like one in every shot. I’m not exactly sure if this description works, but this movie is….immersive. Something about the cinematography and directing perfectly crafts this 1800s feel and makes it seem like the movie very much was filmed in that time period. While I used to generally dislike movies that were filmed in black and white when I was younger, this would frankly be a much worse film if it were in color. The black and white filter on this movie fundamentally impacts how its story is told and how its characters interact and think. The cinematography and directing of The Lighthouse are one of the most telling instances of how deep Eggers dives into his conceptual vision – and how much it pays off.

This is probably closely related to my last point, but I would like to emphasize that this movie is THRILLING. Despite having some idea of the movie’s premise and therefore having some preconceived predictions on how it would end, this movie became EXTREMELY unpredictable very fast. Although I personally wouldn’t consider it to really be horror, 60% of this movie is quite unsettling, and the other 40% is that sense of uneasiness in trying to catch up and make sense of it all. I think my only issue with the course of the plot (and the film in general) is that there were multiple points where I just thought the film would just simply end because I thought its unsettling nature had peaked, but then the damn movie just kept on going. And kept on getting weirder. The Lighthouse is not only a ridiculously creepy movie, but also pretty layered in its creepiness, and is the first movie since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to make me truly terrified of mermaids.

The final thing I’d like to say I absolutely loved about this movie was, of course, Pattinson and Dafoe’s performances. The role of the elderly lighthouse keeper seems to have been almost made for Dafoe. Throughout the movie, Dafoe’s face constantly looks like a mask you’d find at a Halloween store rather than that of a human being. Half, if not most of his dialogue sounds like him quoting Rime of the Ancient Mariner or some other type of epic poetry, but that elaborate yet grimy and haunting vernacular is simply his character’s home tongue. While Dafoe’s character is larger than life, it causes no break in immersion despite its occasional moments of absurdity and nearly embodies the movie’s soul. Pattinson, on the other hand, gives one of the best performances of his career and is nearly unrecognizable. Despite my praise for Dafoe’s character work, his characterization remains relatively static, while Pattinson’s is elaborately dynamic, constantly stretched and twisted in a slow yet noticeable fashion throughout the epic. If this movie were a magic trick, Dafoe is the pledge, Pattinson is the turn, and I don’t think we reach a proper prestige till the bitter end. It feels ironic that the man who played an emotionally muted glitter vampire ten years ago gives us such an impressive demonstration of all the negative aspects of human emotion subtly coming out of the woodwork, but after seeing him the masterful thriller Good Time, I can’t be too surprised. This man has my full trust in playing Batman. I’d lastly like to say that these two had some utterly mind-blowing chemistry. Despite playing some standard archetypes, all their interactions feel extremely human, and almost relatable, to some twisted extent. Their relationship is a constant back and forth cause and effect, fundamentally powering the plot and character development, contributing just as much to the thrill and uneasiness inherent in the film as the masterful directing and cinematography itself. They perpetually torture, annoy, and reluctantly love each other in this cinematic death march, but I’ll be damned if it’s somehow ridiculous and believable at the same time.

Overall, The Lighthouse has got to be one of the best or at least most insane movies of the year. It’s not the most accessible movie to watch, but no matter where you live, it’s worth the trip to whatever pretentious indie movie theater is playing it. Do I give out good ratings a bit too easily? Definitely. But this is still a 10/10.
One person found this helpful
CrankReviewed in the United States on April 18, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Worth it for Dafoe's performance alone.
Verified purchase
The Witch was a movie I felt lost a bit of steam toward the end. It was brilliant for the first half, and then seemingly struggled to maintain its subtle beauty slowly after the half way point. Too much was shown, too much was given away. It became too routine for me after a stunning first run.

The Lighthouse might actually not give enough away. I think that it too loses a bit near the end. This one wraps up I guess fittingly, but the answers are a bit too cryptic or unclear. If there are any answers.

I've been watching a lot of modern films these days, I would include Parasite in this very same discussion, and they seem bereft of an actual point other than symbolism which flirts with inanity to draw out some generalized feeling about things. It's not that I want answers to everything, it's that I don't want to feel like the structure becomes more or less determined by endings and tropes. I feel like this film could have went different ways, and the siren/mermaid angle could have been brought out as a more salient point in the story, illustrating myths and storytelling along with the violence.

Dear lord does Dafoe give an amazing performance here. It's clearly worth it just to see that alone. All throughout his acting is superb, dramatic, and dynamic for what the scripts calls for. Beautiful stuff.

I feel Eggers and his crew are great at a lot of things, but I don't think they know how to write a proper ending to anything.

While the film obviously concludes, it's kind of so randomly written that I must take off a star or even two for what seems like a lacking ability to wrap up a story properly. As in the Witch we are just left kind of with five loose ends and random death at the end. Madness and evil seem to prevail or at least take hold. But other than that it rings a touch hollow compared to better films.

I'll give it four stars because it does most of what it sets out to do properly. I wouldn't trust the one star reviews around here. Even with its flaws the film has amazing atmosphere, solid performances and direction along with some stunningly old school sound design.

That being said, I think I would have liked to have seen a bit more with the siren illusions and nightmares, and the lighthouse reveal toward the end was a little bit ridiculous all told. SPOILERS:

So he just falls down the stairs? Was he not accepted? Did he trip? The seagulls are now eating him? So what does that mean? Why are we being presented with this image? He fought the seagull earlier, and his past is shaky, but what can this all possibly mean? Are seagulls the past mariners now feeding on his body? But why? Pattinson's character doesn't really seem to have significance beyond a shaky past. is there some underlying mythological reference I am missing? IDK.

The problem with The Lighthouse is that there is really not enough to facilitate the dread toward its end. And the lead just falling down the stairs doesn't make any sense to me really. The Lighthouse could represent many things, but ultimately, I feel the point is not really driven home as to what that might be. Male dominance? Greed? Why does Dafoe's character have to wake from his grave to lightly axe the other guy and completely fail while doing so? Makes no sense.

A lot of symbolism is wrapped up in at times stunning dialog sequences from Dafoe, and Pattinson plays his part extremely well too. But for me it gets lost in the film itself. The film wants to be a mysterious drama, but feels almost obligated to become horror for no other reason than hey we need these guys to die.

But did they have to die? I don't think so. And I feel like these guys shoehorn in the endings to their films without much polish or thought quite honestly. They kind of go with aesthetics as a driving virtue to the meaning of the film, but this only works to a certain point.

I'd take The Lighthouse over most of the best picture nominees. It's a flawed film for sure, and it doesn't always make any logical sense, but it's fair to honor the things it positively does right. Good film, and a must see for Dafoe fans.
2 people found this helpful
Coloratura KikiReviewed in the United States on February 13, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Gorgeous, Hypnotic, and Dark
Verified purchase
If you liked Robert Eggers' previous movie, THE WITCH, you'll probably like THE LIGHTHOUSE, although this isn't guaranteed. I enjoyed most of THE LIGHTHOUSE, but I didn't like THE WITCH at all. But Eggers' filmmaking skills had nothing to do with that. There's something about Puritan New England that really puts me off. Not New England itself, but Puritan New England. The rigidity of the Puritans, their aversion to beauty and fun, it's just not for me. THE LIGHTHOUSE takes place in New England - on an island off the coast of Maine to be exact - but there's nothing Puritan about it, though it's also not fun. Quite the contrary. THE LIGHTHOUSE is filled with things like flatulence, chamber pots, crude language, drunkenness, and sex. You get the idea. Things the Puritans obviously endured, but not-so-secretly hated, and to be truthful, I'm not a big fan of most of those things, either. But this is a movie about two men stranded in a remote lighthouse. If they had tea and discussed Chekhov in ever-so-polite terms, it really wouldn't be believable.

Despite the above, this film, which is set somewhere near the end of the 19th century and contains only two characters, is filled with atmospheric beauty. Willem Dafoe is Thomas Wake, a crusty old lighthouse keeper, who looks like he hasn't had a bath in well, years. Robert Pattinson is Ephraim Winslow, a young man filled with secrets, who is at the lighthouse to learn Wake's trade. Problem is, Wake won't let Winslow near the lighthouse beam and saddles him with menial chores, instead. Chores no sane person would ever want to do, and ones that have no learning curve.

If you're the kind of person who can't watch a movie unless there's nonstop action or plenty of jokes, then this certainly isn't the movie for you. If you like atmospheric period pieces, then this might be a film you'd like. If you're into characters and the psychology of relationships more than chase scenes, this could be a film you should definitely consider. If you wonder what would happen if two men who are antagonistic toward each other are stranded in the confines of a lighthouse, then you probably will like this. And, you can't hate black-and-white, and you must accept the fact that isolation can lead to hallucinatory madness, but it'll be up to you to figure out what's real and what's not. Be warned, though: this movie isn't perfect. Its darkness and gloominess is unrelieved, and some of the scenes seem a little overly long, though I think it still deserves five stars.

Both Dafoe and Pattinson seem to relish their roles, and the claustrophobic atmosphere makes both men, but especially Dafoe, seem larger-than-life. That claustrophobic atmosphere also adds a kind of beauty that makes the horror of the men's isolation all the greater. To me, at least, horror seems all the greater when it's set against a background of beauty. We realize what could be, and that makes the horror of what is so much worse than if it were experienced against the backdrop of a jail cell or a mental institution, for example. It's analogous to a field of daffodils growing across your solitary prison cell. You can see them, but you can never touch. And then there's the foghorn. I can't forget the sound of the foghorn. To sum up: the sound and the cinematography are gorgeous.

Eggers is no M. Night Shyamalan, so if you like his work, better skip this movie. Eggers doesn't tie up every loose end, but he plays fair with his viewers, though I admit, I understand the frustration of some at the film's ending. But Eggers' movies, at least so far, have made sense, even the fantasy elements. We, at least I, don't come away from Eggers' films asking ourselves what in the world went on. I know. This movie is one that sunk down into my psyche, and I thought about it for days, maybe weeks. Eggers' films are elegant and never rough around the edges. I guess only time will tell if he can keep this elegance up, at least in the long form and in the horror genre, but for now, for me, Eggers is batting 1000.
3 people found this helpful
Tim F. MartinReviewed in the United States on March 20, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Moody, dark, well-acted, noirish psychedelic head trip of a psychological horror story
Verified purchase
Moody, dark, well-acted, noirish psychedelic head trip of a horror story, very well acted, artfully filmed, but towards the end a bit incomprehensible. It is psychological horror, of two lighthouse keepers going mad, stranded by a storm on a remote island off the New England coast when their watch was supposed to be over. Except for a few scenes (including scenes that probably didn’t actually take place), there are only two characters the entire film, veteran lighthouse keeper Thomas Wake (played by Willem Dafoe) and new trainee Ephraim Winslow (played by Robert Pattinson), both well-acted roles, the dialect a little thick at times but definitely absorbing me in the setting.

Essentially the movie is about two men going mad, if they weren’t already mad. The movie is mostly from the point of view of Winslow (going by his last name in the movie), of the strange things he sees (a tentacle in the lighthouse? A mermaid?) and his sometimes friendly, sometimes antagonistic relationship with Thomas Wake. Sometimes they are the best of friends, dancing together, sharing strong liquor, telling stories, and other times they are in heated arguments or physical fights.

The movie is not unlike the other film called The Lighthouse (came out in 2016) and shares a great many similarities. The 2016 film seems to stay pretty close to some true events while this one is more purely fiction. Both films having a character clearly having breaks with reality but the breaks with reality in this 2019 version are starker, more clearly not reality (i.e. a mermaid and not the friendly kind either or at least more like the sirens of old). The 2016 film seemed more grounded and took more time and effort to explain why the two men were stranded, while in this film the stranding at times almost seemed incidental as the two were already descending into madness. This film was more artistic, not only in the type of lighting, the framing of the film, etc. but in the scenes as they were presented. I think this film did a much better job of showing the sheer misery of the work Winslow had to do as the new guy and made the senior lighthouse keeper much more enigmatic (very strange to start with in a way neither character was in the 2016 film).

It is a dark film, next to no humor. There were dark, sometimes ugly things and it has a very dark ending. Some things were difficult to understand, very arty and symbolic, but also at the same time clearly horror and were horrifying, though what exactly you are seeing is left to the viewer to decide. It is not a happy film, it is not a scary film, it is a strange but well-made psychological horror, watching two people go insane and come to bad ends. Bonus points for the beautiful/creepy mermaid (really only in two scenes if I recall) and a call out to what seemed to me The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
One person found this helpful
D. LarsonReviewed in the United States on November 18, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Liquor, Dancing and Spilled Beans!
Verified purchase
Well, I was never bored. Perplexed, maybe, occasionally amazed, sometimes bemused. But never bored.

Ordinarily, when friends recommend an art house type movie to me, I’m skeptical. So many are film school projects metastasized into tedious or pointless features. But “The Lighthouse”? I don’t claim to know what it’s about, but I was not bored for a moment. Way more than can be said for the average Marvel release.

Who would have thought that one-time sparkly wan vampire Robert Pattinson would turn out to be a full-on method actor? Wow, does he bring the intensity to this one. Buff, bearded, totally committed to his role. And what a role it is. Every actor wants to play crazy at least once in his career, and this is a terrific bull-goose crazy.

Willem DaFoe, you expect good things from this old pro, and he delivers. Almost unrecognizable behind the grime and beard, he goes full force of nature here. And sells it. Since there’re only two people to carry the whole movie (maybe three if you count the mermaid, but is a mermaid people?) every scene has to have one or the other or usually both, so it’s all on them. It works way better than I’d expect a bottle episode to ever work.

When Jack Torrance signed on at the Overlook, the management wisely or not, removed every drop of booze from the premises. Maybe the lighthouse owners should consider that. There is an amazing lot of liquor bottles consumed. And smoking. Pattinson smokes. DaFoe smokes. So much smoking. And so much auto-gratification. And drinking while smoking. You’d expect it to get tiresome, but it builds.

Stuff happening all the time. Seagulls attack and suffer the consequences and then provide more consequences. Wheelbarrows. Shoveling. Drinking. Dancing. Lugging barrels of lamp oil. More wheelbarrows. Flatulence. The sins of Onan. Axe-wielding. A mermaid shows up. So does a lobster trap that might put you right off lobster. Steam engines, bellowing fog horns, the Worst Cistern in Scotland. How can one be bored with all of that? Even the speechifying exposition is good. The storms become characters of their own, and the gorgeous Fresnel light needs to be seen. Needless to say, the upright cylindrical lighthouse itself is symbolic as any upright tapered cylinder can get. Wonderful images and great photography.

I didn’t even mind the old-timey square format. I didn’t understand the “why” of it, but with lovely high-contrast B&W images, it made for a nice change from widescreen reality. Nothing “real” about this one.

Director Robert Eggers made “The Witch”, and if you haven’t seen it, go see it. A horror/supernatural masterwork that is legitimately creepy, not a cheap knockoff. Right up there with “Babadook” and “It Follows” as exemplars of what can be done with small budgets and big talent. “The Lighthouse” isn’t quite in the same league as “The Witch” but it is memorable, beautiful, and weirdly affecting. These two awful people knocking each other around in isolation doesn’t sound like a winning formula, but I recommend it without reservation.
2 people found this helpful
DavidReviewed in the United States on May 18, 2021
2.0 out of 5 stars
Hodgepodge of Rip Offs
Verified purchase
This movie was another failed attempt at avant-garde movie making. It is a mixture of several rip offs that weren't done so well.

The scene where someone is chasing someone else with an ax, complete with limp and all was just a shameless rip off of "The Shining", along with the enchantment of an isolated place and the light house itself literally being "the shining" and the supposed source of the madness. In this context there was even a mention of "St Elmo's fire" (the title of another movie).

The reality of the issues of male sexuality popped up a few times in the film, and came to a head in a moment that came about as a result of two drunk, lonely men being isolated together, just enough not to potentially frighten off any heterosexual male viewers of course. I'd be completely shocked if this wasn't actually taken from Ted Kotcheff's "Wake in Fright", which shared many other aspects I'm not going to list, not the least of which was again, isolation and madness.

The almost haunting black and white aura of the film along with the subtlety of identity issues, confusion and spiraling madness was ripped off from Ingmar Bergman's "Persona", down to the surprising discovery of something being written by one of the characters by the other.

The seagull idea was a very subtle rip off of "The Birds".

I even felt a hint of the boat experience from "Jaws" here.

The looming feeling of doom as their only "ration" that was left wasn't food, as they were now trapped on an island for who knows how long, gave hints of Castaway.

Finally, the idea of not knowing whether any of this was ever even real or not because the sanity of both characters was in question and neither was a reliable witness, was right on par with the Joker movie.

I couldn't find anything really original about this mixture of rip offs. Now the cast and acting was just amazing. It's really the only thing that kept me glued to the end, along with the hope there would be some amazing ending that was worth enduring this, which only turned out to be an insult to the whole thing. The shots and blocked in framing was excellent, giving it a claustrophobic feeling, but it was wasted effort.

The young, inexperienced pretty boy trying to make his way through a tough situation, meets crotchety old commanding fart (literally) that seems to have it in for him, because of what he is, had so much potential for development and gave the movie itself so much potential substance, story and even take away lessons. All wasted.

I suspect the ending was supposed to raise more questions instead of answering the ones brought up during the movie, and that would have actually made everything very much forgivable, as bad as it all was. But they way that was done was blunt, rude, lazy and just downright insulting to me as someone who invested my time and attention for almost 2 hours into this.

Had they made it more interesting and thrown in some amazing creativity of their own to this hodgepodge of rip offs as Tarantino did with all of his works, it would have been some unique art, or at least even entertaining. But again all they could muster was the cast and performance. What a waste of talent and what character development that did unfold.

It just left me feeling wasted in general.

It takes genius to truly create an original work on the subject of madness, something very few can pull off in any art form, and it is done naturally, out of a primal need to do it. To any future movie makers out there, please use this as a learning experience. If you're not a genius on the verge yourself, don't waste yours and others' time.

At this point I don't think Hollywood could make anything of substance anymore if they actually did try. They're as lost as these wasted characters, which I find very ironic.
See all reviews